Authors: Arjen Brasz and Nina Hoette

In this article, the authors outline 9 key success factors for implementing price strategy. Arjen Brasz ( is a Director at Simon-Kucher & Partners, The Netherlands. He specializes in top line growth and profit optimization for manufacturing and wholesale clients. Nina Hoette ( is a Consultant at Simon-Kucher & Partners, The Netherlands. Nina Specializes in the optimization of pricing- and sales processes within the global manufacturing and wholesale industry.

The Pricing Advisor, April 2017

Successful Price Strategy Implementation in B2B

No other lever has more impact on profitability than pricing. We see that pricing is increasingly embraced as a capability to stimulate growth and drive profitability.

Often, pricing is historically grown, based on gut feeling and cost-plus methods, and with unclear responsibilities regarding pricing strategy and implementation. Price optimization, on the other hand, is a logical and structured approach based on customer value, which typically yields between 2 to 5 percentage points of return on sales. Although this is a promising business case, we see many organizations struggle to make the transition towards price optimization and implementation and realization.

How can an organization move from strategy to implementation? How do we structurally embed this in our organization? In our experience, strategy development is clean, but implementation is dirty and often fails to meet its full potential since crucial ingredients for success are lacking. Outlined below are the 9 key success factors you need to employ to effectively implement your price strategy.

9 Must-Haves for a Successful Implementation of a Pricing Strategy

1. Make price strategy a top management priority

It is crucial to have board-level awareness regarding the importance of price, a good pricing strategy and sufficient support for optimization. Firstly, you need management buy-in to regularly emphasize the importance of pricing towards the entire organization. Secondly, management needs to set direction and define clarity on positioning and price levels. Moreover, top management needs to be involved in the price strategy to create a culture where price wars are avoided and there is a profit oriented culture. Set an example and clearly communicate the pricing strategy to the market through press releases and interviews. Management should show dedication to the program by freeing up sufficient resources.

2. Set an ambitious pricing roadmap with a phased roll-out

A successful price strategy implementation needs measureable goals that lead to a clear point on the horizon. In order to achieve this, take a differentiated view on pricing and identify which pricing topics impact the bottom line. A frequently used method is the price waterfall, which clarifies the different buckets or ‘buttons to push’ for profit optimization. Do not try to take on all topics at once, but instead prioritize. Critically evaluate each bucket on improvement potential and define a phased approach. Do not forget to adjust the roadmap after each phase and reprioritize.

9 Must-Haves for a Successful Implementation of a Pricing Strategy

3. Select an experienced program manager to drive change

Executing a pricing strategy will require intensive coordination between internal departments. Therefore, a seasoned program manager is needed to oversee implementation of the roadmap. This program manager should (a) have an analytical mind-set (b) be able to translate the numbers to commercial solutions (c) have experience with leading large programs and (d) have the skills to manage all stakeholders within the organization.

4. Embed the new price structure in concrete tooling and systems

While pricing is typically based on gut feeling, most price optimization projects result in a structure or a process to support decision making. This could include peer comparison to compare performance within the sales organization or price driver analysis to evaluate the balance of power in a specific situation. Methods or checklists often fade away after a certain period, while tools are a powerful way to translate a strategy to a practical process that can be used for daily business. User friendliness and simplicity are key words to enable a successful translation of a new pricing strategy into tooling.

5. Define clear governance and responsibilities

Responsibility for pricing is often divided between different functions and departments. This leads to limited ownership and suboptimal pricing decisions. Pricing responsibilities range from sales, marketing and product management to finance functions, depending on the industry. Over the last decade we have increasingly seen dedicated pricing teams coming up. In more centralized organizations, these teams are responsible for pricing. In more decentralized organizations we typically see more of an advisory function that creates insights and supports decision making. Assign clear tasks and responsibilities, balancing between central guidance and local responsibilities over the different functions.

6. Train your salesforce and prepare customer communication

Pricing projects are often tougher to sell internally than they are to sell externally. Involving sales at an early stage, training them and clearly defining the benefits of the new structure is crucial. Your sales force needs to believe the pricing structure and be able to explain it to customers. Often, a pricing project separates the ‘price sellers’ from the ‘value sellers’. Sales training will be necessary to have a convincing story for each customer. Thorough preparation, practice and role-plays are key to ensure the confidence needed at the customer table.

7. Define KPI’s, monitor results, and steer accordingly

Even though it is often overlooked, defining KPI’s and measuring results are key to track implementation progress. You will not be able to measure everything from day one. Set-up a simple and lean Excel-based monitoring dashboard to create first insights. Afterwards, add remaining KPI’s and finally embed and automate the monitoring dashboard into your ERP system.

9 Must-Haves for a Successful Implementation of a Pricing Strategy

8. Communicate early results to a broad audience

Price optimization is complex, implementation will not happen overnight and input from sales will probably be required. To gain and sustain sufficient buy-in for the new price structure, it is critical to signal (positive) results to a broad audience within the organization. This will ensure that the price strategy is carried and supported by the entire organization. Make people part of the success by sharing achievements of milestones and by celebrating success.

9. Start small and drive continuous improvement

Implementing a new price strategy can have a significant impact within the organization and requires changing existing processes and a new way of working. Change does not happen in one day; start small, learn and then roll-out. We typically start with smaller pilots, and scale-up gradually. This enables you to continuously refine and improve your solution, based on lessons learned from implementation.

What it takes to succeed

Price implementation projects are complex and not always clear-cut. Therefore, you should approach a price implementation project as a marathon, not a sprint. To have significant impact on the results, like a marathon, preparation is key for successful implementation. Applying these 9 must-haves to your specific case will be the right start to successfully implement your pricing strategy and will enable you to reap the profits of your price strategy.

9 Must-Haves for a Successful Implementation of a Pricing Strategy

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